Coming on the heels of a difficult 2-0 loss last Friday at Sporting KC, Wednesday night’s 3-1 home defeat to Philadelphia was a disappointment.
Whether it was falling to a lowly Union team, snapping the club’s nearly two-year home unbeaten run vs. Eastern sides at Toyota Park or just simply losing the game in hand they’ve had on the rest of the conference for most of the season, there wasn’t much to take away from the affair.
Asked Friday if the team felt more pressure ahead of Saturday’s six-pointer at New York (LIVE 2:30pm CT on NBC), captain Logan Pause said, “I don’t think we do. Of course we don’t want to lose games but we’ve used it as a learning opportunity and getting back to the fundamentals of what this team is about.”
Visiting second-place New York following two losses and a tightening of the Eastern Conference playoff race isn’t ideal. The Red Bulls star-studded roster has helped the team go 11-1-3 at home and outscore opponents at their self-named arena 34-16 in this season.
Historically the three previous Fire games at Red Bull Arena have been tight affairs but the the Fire have never won there, going 0-2-1 since 2010.
The team will also still be without the services of Pause’s midfield partner Pavel Pardo, who Fire head coach Frank Klopas confirmed Friday will miss his fifth straight match due to a hamstring injury suffered September 12 in Toronto.
Pardo's compatriot Guillermo Franco will also serve the first of a two-game suspension following his tackle on Union midfielder Brian Carroll in the 78th minute of Wednesday's game.
Even still, the Fire could clinch a playoff berth this weekend with a victory and either a Houston loss vs. Montreal Saturday night or Columbus loss or draw vs. Sporting KC on Sunday. A draw at New York would also be beneficial to the Fire's postseason chances if one of those results occurs.
Pause, who appeared in his 300th competitive match for the Fire in Wednesday’s defeat, feels Saturday’s game provides a good opportunity to bounce back.
“One of the joys of having a quick turnaround is being able to apply what he learned from Wednesday. We’re looking at tomorrow as a great opportunity for us. Obviously a game at New York won’t be easy game but we’re looking forward to it.”
WATCH: Fire vs. Red Bulls Preview